“A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn’t feel like it.” – Alastair Cook
Don’t worry, this isn’t going to turn into a quote board of pithy inspirational notes. But today is not a good day and I think it’s worth recording for that very reason. Things don’t always go well or come easily. I struggled on my most recent question bank (scoring 78% instead of my goal of 85%), and this week has felt flat and unmotivated. I haven’t been the nicest person to be around, either. I’ve definitely opened up a yawning chasm of self doubt and self questioning.
When I look back on this experience, though, I want to remember it for what it was. It’s easy to romanticize or minimize in hindsight. There are going to be a lot of these hard days in the next month as we gear up on our final assault on Step 1. If it was easy, everyone would do well.
I guess what’s getting me through the hard days are two predominant thoughts. First, I know that everything ends. In a few weeks I won’t be able to do a single thing about my Step 1 score, and I’ll be lounging somewhere warm. Although the days seem long (interminable?), they will end. Second, I know that the work I am doing matters. Doing better on this test will make a difference in my future career options. In the near term, it’s a springboard for me to go from performing like a very average medical student into a top level of performance. I want to carry that mentality throughout the next two clinical years. But first, I need to prepare effectively and do well.
So, as with everything, I’ll set small and achievable interim goals, chart my successes, monitor my failures, keep my head down and keep moving forward. And now I need to get back to it: I’m on 3.7 hours today and I need to have a total of 10 hours every day.